Commenters pan Education Dept. ‘third-party servicer’ plans

Very few comments are in favor of the U.S. Department of Education's new reporting requirements for college vendors.
Dept. of Education seal
(Department of Education / Flickr)

Just a handful of comments submitted in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s “third-party servicer” guidance supported it, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the edtech analyst Phil Hill.

Of 1,099 comments analyzed by Hill and his colleagues, 90% were against the department’s suggested changes and 9% were neutral. Just 10 comments, most from consumer protection groups, were in favor of the guidance.

“[It’s striking that] these consumer protection groups were not able to get any clear support from those they view as needing protection. No universities or colleges, no associations representing institutions, no student groups,” Hill wrote in a blog post sharing the analysis.

The department’s original guidance, published in February, would have expanded the department’s definition of “third-party servicers” — introducing new reporting requirements for colleges and a wide range of higher education vendors.


The department has already pledged to revise its guidance in response to negative feedback from prominent higher education groups, such as the American Council on Education and Educause, which expressed concern the requirements would be burdensome for colleges.

In a blog post published April 12, the department said it would revise its initial guidance to clarify covered entities, remove a restriction preventing colleges from working with foreign-owned tech vendors and give colleges and companies more time to comply.

Rather than revising its guidance, Hill wrote in his blog post, the department should have rescinded the guidance and started from scratch.

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